I. Background

Download 65.03 Kb.
Size65.03 Kb.

External Communication Strategy

I. Background
By the end of 2008, Somali were caught in a worsening humanitarian situation where 43% of the entire population were in need of urgent humanitarian assistance1. In addition, the security situation deteriorated substantially, with frequent attacks targeting the Ethiopian armed forces, the UN-supported Transitional Federal Government (TFG), Somali people (elders, judges, business people), the UN and NGOs. Staff has been working in an increasingly risky environment since mid 2008, leading to a downscaling of activities in country and more remote management. The space for UNDP to operate in Somalia is shrinking, which required the organisation to adjust its programmatic priorities and its operational modalities.

On the other hand, the signing of the Djibouti peace agreement between the TFG and the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) in August 2008, the peaceful presidential elections that took place in Puntland in January, the presidential elections in Somalia and the new Government of Unity (as of February 2009) offered hope of lasting peace and stability to a country in conflict over the past 18 years.

Why do we need to change the way we communicate?
UNDP Somalia works in a unique situation – complex conflict, coupled with increasing humanitarian crises, further combined with an ongoing peace process, three different administrations and an office in exile – that requires the organization to be able to mutate, adapt and be nimble. Rigidity is doomed to fail.
The complex country situation, as well as recent events such as attacks targeted at the UN and threats demonstrate that there is confusion as to what UNDP stands for (mandate), what it does and why, doubts about its neutrality, and resentment about some programmatic decisions. Communicating in conflict has many challenges, one of them being the difficulty of not being associated with one party of the conflict. The particular nature of the Somalia conflict requires complex messaging to maintain the credibility of the organization and ensure that its work is perceived as serving all Somalis.
In the current Somalia context, communication is not just adding value to a programme. It is a prerequisite to create an enabling environment. Effective communication will improve the credibility of UNDP and reassert its commitment to work for all Somalis.
In addition, Somalia is currently attracting a lot of attention, all of it negative: reporting on Somalia has been so negative for so long – piracy, conflict, government failure, humanitarian crisis – that the positive developments are overlooked. The continuing “bad news”, coupled with inaccurate reporting by international media does not do justice to our achievements and those of our local and international partners.
Finally, and as a consequence of this increased media focus on Somalia, UNDP Somalia is also in the spotlight and heavily scrutinized. This is compounded by a flow of inaccurate/wrong or truncated information, widely available on the web, and relayed by the media, on what UNDP is doing in Somalia, and a lack of appreciation that the Security Council and Members States are different part of the UN organisation than the agencies.
II. UNDP’s mission and objectives

  1. UNDP Somalia’s mission

UNDP Somalia shares and supports the Somali vision for a peaceful and secure State that will provide sustainable social and economic development opportunities and enhanced livelihoods for every Somali child, woman and man. We are committed to promoting peace and reconciliation, building capacities and accelerating the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.
UNDP endeavors to be a key actor in fostering partnerships, mobilizing resources, providing advice, advocacy, development support and coordination services as well as information products, and enabling Somalis to share knowledge and experiences in country and globally.

  1. UNDP Somalia’s objectives

The overall objective of UNDP’s programme in Somalia in 2008-2009 is to support Somalis in building durable peace and accelerating reconstruction and development.

UNDp Somalia help Somalis build solutions for democratic governance, the rule of law and security, recovery and sustainable livelihoods, the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, and HIV/AIDS. Through the Human Development and Economics Unit, UNDP creates awareness of and advocate on the Goals and Human Development

III. Objectives of the communication strategy

  1. Overarching objective

The communication strategy will support UNDP Somalia’s objective to support Somalis build durable peace and accelerate reconstruction and development through:

    • Fostering better understanding of issues related to human development and poverty reduction in Somalia.

    • Mobilizing support for the role of UNDP in addressing them.

The communication strategy seeks to influence the environment in which UNDP operates to: reassert credibility, regain credibility, reassert neutrality, manage expectations, and allow a level of flexibility in operations. UNDP needs strategic communication, for each audience. This requires a strategy that is not geared towards PR and one way information – particularly since we are scaling down international presence in Somalia, and must therefore raise the profile of our partners on the ground. A culture shift is needed to mainstream communication in the work of the programmes and make it a strategic part of programme delivery.

  1. Specific objectives

Corporate communication and positioning:

  1. To make UNDP’s mandate clear, frame expectations – what is reasonable to expect UNDP to deliver, as well as to advocate impact of UNDP activities;

  2. To create awareness about the impact of UNDP’s work with a particular focus on the community based work;

  3. To facilitate and acknowledge the positive developments in Somalia and the efforts by Somali partners and donors to move towards peace, reconstruction and development;

  4. To advocate Somali issues of concern to the world media and international community – that UNDP may or may not be in a position to address, and positive development in Somalia;

Programme communication/issue based:

  1. To improve (two-way) communication with Somalis in country, particularly civil society and CBOs– so that their feedback can be translated into programme adjustment;

  2. To stress that UNDP works in support of the Somalis, to help answer their concerns; and put emphasis on the work with communities as opposed to UNDP’s work with institutions;

  3. To demonstrate to donors that UNDP activities are yielding concrete results;

  4. To facilitate resource mobilization and strengthen partnerships.

3. Scope of the communication strategy

The communication strategy covers the function and the processes of external communication, applies to the Liaison Office and Sub-offices alike and covers 2009-2010. It has been developed through a consultative process involving a Communication Task Force that comprises of staff members from the programmes who will meet regularly.

External communication can only be efficient if supported and fed by adequate and timely internal communication. Although this strategy covers only external communication the Communication Team and will develop in 2009 a few recommendations on how to build on existing tools to boost internal communication in the country office.
While this strategy does not cover crisis communication (each crisis would need it own strategy), the Communication Team will take an active role in case of a critical incident, to protect the integrity and reputation of the organization.(See under section IX, Communication Team).
This communication strategy links to, borrows from and supports the UN Country Team Communication strategy, which was developed in October 2008 by the UN Country Team Information Group (UNIG) and approved by the UN Country Team.
IV. Perceptions
Word of caution: There is no baseline study on the perceptions about UNDP. Therefore, comments must be taken with extreme caution; these perceptions are based on impressions and limited knowledge (‘perceptions of perceptions’), and do not cover an extensive variety of audiences.
UNDP tends to be associated with the TFG ie with one party to the conflict, as indicated by the current increase in attacks targeting the UN, and particularly UNDP staff; the claims made after those attacks; threats made to colleagues; monitoring of diaspora news outlets and feedback from colleagues.

As a result, UNDP is known and seen for its work with institutions and government, and much less so for its community-based work.

Another perception, is that UNDP lacks flexibility to operate. The Somali context is extremely volatile; it results from 18 years of conflict and no functional government. This, in practice, means that standard operating procedures for procurement, payment, but also reporting are inadequate and can lead to resentment. This is mostly due to a lack of understanding of how UNDP works, which requires us to explain our procedures.
V. Audiences and messages
The external communication strategy requires a thorough review of who UNDP’s audiences are, a good understanding of their needs and their perceptions of/expectations from UNDP as well a selection/prioritization for the communication work. This is a challenge, since at this point, no audience survey can be conducted in the country, we are operating from remote, and hence the Communications Team must rely on second-hand information.
The audiences below may require to be broken down by region (ie ‘Somaliland’, ‘Puntland’, ‘South Central Somalia’) according to which part of the programme they are relating to.
1. Somalis in the country (primary target audience- in order of priority)

Somali audiences can be categorized as follows:

  • Partners on the ground, communities;

  • Ordinary Somalis

  • Civil society organizations;

  • Private sector;

  • Somali administrations – TFG, Somaliland, Puntland, religious groups, ARS;

  • Somali universities.

Communication objectives:

Regain credibility through increased awareness of UNDP’s role and a more balanced picture of UNDP’s work in support of all Somalis. This requires emphasizing the community-based work that UNDP is doing, and simultaneously keep a lower profile on the security and rule of law work, which involves capacity building and financial or in kind support for existing institutions.

Manage expectations through transparent, two-way communication. The keyword for our communication with the Somali public is “transparency” – clearly and openly communicate what UNDP is doing, what it is not doing, why and under what principles it operates, in order to manage expectations.
UNDP wide messages

  • UNDP Somalia helps Somalis reduce poverty and develop greater capacity to manage their own development.

  • UNDP works both with institutions and with communities: in its community-based work, UNDP develops its projects based on the needs and requirements of communities. These projects are context-specific.

  • UNDP is in Somalia for the long haul in support of the Somali people.

  • UNDP is working with the private sector and civil society organizations to improve the livelihoods of Somalis.

  • UNDP is working in coordination with the other UN agencies, funds and programmes, and NGOs to help Somalis rebuild and develop their political and economic structures.

For programme specific messages, see the annex I

  • Feed the projected OCHA information centres in Somalia – intended to store and distribute information material produced by all UN agencies in Somalia – with updated information tools: leaflets, brochures, in Somali, statistical publications (HDEU)

  • Produce information material in Somali and distribute them through UNDP field offices, and programme and project staff on the ground who work with communities (RSL, HDEU, some parts of ROLS)

  • Seek regular feedback from in-country staff on information/communication tools needs and capitalize on their knowledge of/contacts with community groups (women’s groups, youth groups, elders).

  • Develop partnership with selected local radios to present community-based projects in their area of coverage – develop background material for them, organize project visit and speakers in Somali.

  • Engage with universities as the produce the bureaucracy and media of tomorrow.


Working mostly from remote bases means that the contacts between communities on the ground and UNDP staff is limited. Even for those staff members who are in Somalia, the security situation is drastically reducing their movements and interaction.


Conduct a small-scale survey (could take the form of interviews) on specific projects by the end of 2009, to be carried out by staff in Somalia. This is critical to have a sense of how Somalis see and respond to UNDP’s work.

2. Somali media

This audience can be broken into: Local media in Somali regions – print, electronic radio and community channels

Communication objectives

To have Somali media report on, create and raise awareness of the activities and work of UNDP and its impact within Somali regions – particularly the community-based work that UNDP is carrying out.

To get the message out that UNDP is staying in Somalia, despite the difficulties and risks, in support of the Somali people.
UNDP wide messages

  • UNDP Somalia works with its partners

  • to achieve a peaceful and secure nation in which every Somali has the opportunity to build a better life.

  • The overall objective of UNDP’s programme in Somalia over 2008-2009 is to support Somalis in building durable peace and accelerating reconstruction and development.

  • UNDP is working in coordination with the other UN agencies, funds and programmes and NGOs to help Somalis rebuild and develop their political and economic structures.

  • UNDP spends more resources in Somalia than in Nairobi.

For programme specific messages, see annex II.

Media relations: Increase our efforts into building relations with the local media and switch the focus from our institutional work to our community work.

  • Develop relationships with the three Somali journalists’ organizations and keep the discussion going on media development.

  • Develop content through media associations and networks and place it with local radios (buy air time).

  • Select and use local radio in the three Somali zones to publicize the community-based work that UNDP is doing (buy air time).

  • Collaborate with private radios to air stories of community based work.

  • Increase relationship with IRIN.

  • Organize strategic radio debates between elders and/or high profile figures and selected UN staff.

  • Play an active role (albeit not leadership) in the media development programme that is undertaken by the governance programme.

  • Provide Somali journalists access to the Resident Coordinator and Country Director as part of developing a relationship.

  • Develop a media policy covering, inter alia, who is authorized to speak to the media in the sub-offices and how staff can engage with the local media.


The media scene is highly volatile and fractioned in Somali. New radio acre created, journalists move from one to the other constantly.

Journalist training is very limited for the younger generation of journalists who had no formal training.

Rival journalists associations complicate the relationship


Coverage attained in the local media of UNDP activities, media trips and engagement of civil society in Somali regions.

Requests for Right of reply/rebuttal prior to the publishing of stories.

  1. Somalis in the diaspora

Communication objectives:

Engage the diaspora groups – get their understanding and support for UNDP’s programme.

This requires to target them systematically with information in order for them to have the full picture of what UNDP is doing. The highly organized diaspora groups are critical as they can relay the information to the local communities and have also a strong lobbying capacity.

UNDP wide messages

  • UNDP areas of leverage are democratic governance and institution-building at both micro and macro levels and that is what we are doing.

  • Continue to support Somalia financially and in-kind

  • UNDP has transparent recruitment processes, with emphasis on hiring Somali speaking staff.

  • Apply for vacancies within UNDP Somalia.

  • Apply to be involved in the QUESTS project.

  • UNDP work is of positive benefit to the Somali people and should be supported by Somalis outside the country, even if only by providing regular consultations.

  • The Diaspora is also recognised as a positive, useful force and the UN recognizes the huge contribution of the Diaspora and wants to work with them whenever and wherever possible.

  • UNDP spends more resources in Somalia than in Nairobi

For programme specific messages, see annex III

  • Target ten of the most widely read internet sites usually related to the Diaspora. Apart from the mainstream media (BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera) members of the Diaspora also listen to BBC and VOA Somali services and watch the two most popular television stations broadcasting in Somali, Universal Raad TV, ETN.

  • Contact Diaspora through regular emails and creation of a comprehensive emailing list.

  • UNDP website and complementary UNDP online resource centre (to be established).

  • QUESTS project

  • Selected diaspora events

  • Contact with Somali Diaspora Network

  • UNDP Somali colleagues


It is necessary to communicate with a wide section of Diaspora - not just one country, class or clan to ensure the message is spread widely. There is a risk that the view of the most vocal prevails.


UNDP upcoming study of the diaspora could be an entry point to get feedback from the diaspora’s major groups.

The QUESTS project could also serve as a way to establish whether the communication efforts towards the diaspora have been fruitful or not.

  1. International media

These can be broken into: International press – electronic, print radio

Various diaspora associations and networks; Local media in high populated Somali locations – eg London, Toronto, Minnesota, Melbourne, Dubai and they make a high use of online news outlets.

Communication objectives

To advocate Somali issues of concern to the world media and international community.

UNDP wide messages

  • UNDP is staying in Somalia – on the ground

  • The overall objective of UNDP’s programme in Somalia over 2008-2009 is to support Somalis in building durable peace and accelerating reconstruction and development.

  • UNDP spends more resources in Somalia than in Nairobi

  • UNDP is a key source of quick and reliable information on Somalia both on and off the record.

For programme specific messages, see annex IV

  • Monitor what is being reported by international media through BBC monitoring etc, and establish open lines of communication with them in order to correct misinformation.

  • Organize media workshop to brief media about UNDP community work, controversial topics, access to information through UNDP and Communication Team as a resource, and a trustable source of information

  • Be proactive and send to identified and regularly updated contacts new and consistent information on UNDP work in Somalia.

  • Develop regular contact, to develop a relationship so that they call Right of reply, in order to be able to correct misinformation in a systematic manner, to share significant information from their sources, to develop trust over sensitive stories.

  • Explore possibilities of international media visits

  • Use UNDP staff as hooks for international press to cover Somalia (e.g getting a British outlet to cover a British staff member in the field).

  • Engage with the Foreign Correspondents Association of East Africa.


There has been some extremely negative reporting about UNDP Somalia, always emphasizing the rule of law work and UNDP’s procedures.

The media coverage of Somalia is also recurrently negative, focused around piracy, the TFG tribulations and the humanitarian crisis. Somalia seems to be in a “silo”, labeled as the “ultimate failed state”. Against this background, the effort of Somalis to rebuild their communities are getting no attention and are likely to not be very media attractive in the face of the security and political issues that the country faces.

Engagement of diaspora, coverage of Somali issues in relation to UNDP, media trips.

  1. Donors

Communication objectives

Convince the donors that working in Somalia is still possible, albeit at a greater cost.

UNDP wide messages

  • We will keep working in and on Somalia

  • UNDP is working in a coordinated fashion with the rest of the UN agencies and NGOs to help Somalis rebuild and develop their political and economic structures.

  • UNDP areas of leverage are democratic governance and institution building at both micro and macro levels and that is what we are doing.

  • We can still do a great deal of work in Somalia, but we need more flexibility and security.

  • Given the security conditions in Somalia, operational flexibility is required, acting when operations are possible and opportunities arise, which entails higher costs.

  • Due to the security situation, we are going to have to spend more on security to be able to keep delivering while protecting our staff (in line with other countries such as Iraq or Afghanistan).

  • Needs are increasing but we must avoid funding only emergency activities without planning for the mid- and long-term; even in the ongoing emergency, early recovery, recovery and development programmes are still possible and needed.

For programme specific messages see annex V

Bi-weekly donor bulletin

Consider a donor specific section of the website

Donor events/trips to Somalia (to witness UN MDG-related achievements/projects)


Some donors believe that it is not possible to work in the country or that the Djibouti process is likely to fail.


Feedback provide at the strategic meetings with donors

  1. UN agencies

Communication objectives

Engage the UN agencies in highlighting the complementary between the humanitarian, political and development work being carried out in Somalia.

Raise the level of knowledge in other agencies about the community based work that UNDP is doing.
UNDP wide messages

  • “We are here to stay” - the UN remains engaged in Somalia.

  • The humanitarian, development and political work is all complementary. We all work towards a safer, stable and functioning Somalia.

  • UNDP areas of leverage are democratic governance and institution building at both micro and macro levels and that is what we are doing.

For programme specific messages, see annex VI

UNCT meetings both in Nairobi and in the sub-offices.

Take an active role in the bi-weekly meetings of the UN Information Group – and invite UNDP managers to present new development, clarify wrong perceptions.

Replicate IG efforts within Somalia – especially to establish links between Nairobi group and Somalis


UNDP, by carrying out its work in support of the TFG, is perceived to be associated with it. This is particularly tricky as the TFG is heavily fought by other stakeholders in-country. This results in other agencies distancing themselves from the work of UNDP.


Feedback provided at the UN Country Team meetings.

VII. Implementing the strategy – work plan
To be developed once the strategy is approved. Will comprise:

  • Expected results;

  • Deadlines/ timeframe;

  • Responsibilities;

  • Cost;

  • Impact assessment (evaluation).

IIX. Evaluating the success of the communication strategy

  1. Outputs

  • Poll – commission an external, independent poll at the end of 2010 would help evaluate the impact of the communication strategy against the objectives as set in this document;

  • Online surveys for internal evaluation on key events;

  • Web statistics – to be published;

  • Track down coverage of UNDP Somalia in the media both in quality and quantity.

2. Outcomes

  • Target publics received the messages directed at them, paid attention to or understood them, and retained those messages in any way;

  • Communication materials and messages distributed have resulted in any opinion, attitude and/or behaviour changes.

IX. The Communication Team
The communication Team was established in late 2008, and comprises of a Head of Communications, a Media Relations Specialist and soon a Communication Officer.

  1. Objectives

The objectives of the Communication Unit are the same as those of this strategy (see section III of this document).

  1. Key responsibilities

  • Increase outreach/understanding of UNDP Somalia’s work

  • Mainstream communication into the work of the programmes – making communication a strategic function of programme delivery, and not an add on.

  • Help develop a culture of communication by developing simple communication tools and supporting knowledge sharing. This includes assessing the needs in terms of internal communication and devise simple tools/mechanisms, together with HR and IT, to improve the information and knowledge flow within UNDP;

  • Develop and implement an external communication strategy that will support UNDP Somalia’s objective to strengthening security for peace and development in Somalia;

  • Ensure the reputation management of the organization;

  • Take an active part in the UNCT Info Group

  1. Crisis communication

In case of a critical incident, the Communication Team will take an active role in protecting the integrity and reputation of the organization. To achieve this end, the Communication Team will: define and adapt UNDP’s response; inform staff through regular updates; prepare statements for the media; answer media requests promptly and honestly; escort journalists; participate in the crisis communication cell of the UN Country Team.
X. The Communication Taskforce
1. Mandate

The Communication Taskforce is not intended to carry out the work of the Communication Unit but rather to act as a sounding board/advisory group when developing the communications strategy.

Its mandate is therefore limited in time up to the completion (approval, sharing and posting) of the communication strategy.
2. Responsibilities

Specifically, the Communication Taskforce will:

    • Develop target-specific messages for each programme (ongoing);

    • Advise the Communication Unit on the most appropriate communication channels, drawing on their experience and contacts;

    • Provide feedback to the Communication Unit on drafts of the communication strategy;

    • Share media contacts, news worthy stories and agree to take part in interviews when necessary.

1 FSAU Post-Gu Assessment, August 2008.


Thursday, 12 March 2009

Share with your friends:

The database is protected by copyright ©essaydocs.org 2020
send message

    Main page